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Which one of the following is correct/better? As usual, I am more interested in the really good construct than just a comparison.

  1. The power of a programming language lies in abilities of the programmer using it in how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

  2. The power of a programming language lies in abilities of the programmer using it, how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

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3  
It's not exactly clear to me what point you are making. Are you saying the power of every/any programming language is an illusory concept that simply nets down to ability of the programmer using it? That "powerful" languages are those which make it easy to "glue [subcomponents] together"? Or what? And how does the specific language to be used have any significant bearing on how the programmer breaks down a [requirements specification] into implementable subcomponents? –  FumbleFingers Jul 10 '11 at 20:11
    
I am writing this in the context of computer programming languages where a problem is broken into pieces and solved separately. Later the solution is glued together to get 'the one' solution. –  Dilawar Jul 11 '11 at 9:10
    
In which case the 'breaking down of the problem into pieces' should not need to influenced by the choice of implementation language (which might not even have been decided at that time). It seems to me your sample sentence does in fact net down to "Choice of language is irrelevant - all that matters is the competence of the programmer". –  FumbleFingers Jul 11 '11 at 14:01

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Neither construct does what you want.

You are using the latter part of the sentence to expound on what is said in the former, but the way you have worded them makes them disjoint, so you cannot use subordination or co-ordination, or even divide them into separate sentences.

Separate them with either an n-dash or a colon, and either keep the second instance of "in" or allow the reader to carry the first instance across:

The power of a programming language lies in abilities of the programmer using it -- in how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

The power of a programming language lies in abilities of the programmer using it: in how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

The power of a programming language lies in abilities of the programmer using it -- how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

The power of a programming language lies in abilities of the programmer using it: how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

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Thanks for second para. These points of grammar is what I have been looking for. –  Dilawar Jul 11 '11 at 9:18
    
I think you have put your finger on the central issue here. Grammatically the sentence divides into two halves. The problem is semantically it breaks down when you're forced to consider the second part as a logical expansion of the first. We're left with something that effectively means "The power of a language does not exist independently of the ability of a programmer to utilise that power". –  FumbleFingers Jul 11 '11 at 14:10

You could actually just do:

The power of a programming language lies in the ability of the programmer to use it, and how effectively he is able to break down the program and glue the solutions together.

I reckon that is better.

Hope that helps

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1  
I think I made a mistake and the sense of the sentence changed. The fragment 'programmer using it' is just 'programmer'. This sentence emphasis that even if a programmer knows a language, it does not necessarily translate into effectiveness. –  Dilawar Jul 10 '11 at 18:50
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I don't really see what "break down the program" is supposed to mean here, and "glue the solutions" sounds odd, to say the least. A "solution" normally means "the whole finished application", but here it seems to mean something like "subroutines". Anyway, enough of the semantics. Your rewrite is a vast improvement, but I wouild change the bit after the comma to and in how effectively... –  FumbleFingers Jul 10 '11 at 19:18
    
It is in the context of computer programming language. How a program is broken into pieces is a big issue there. Since the program is broken into pieces, each piece is solved separetely and their solutions are 'glued together' or 'mixed together' to form 'the solution' which may or may not be correct but that is a techinial issue with programming. –  Dilawar Jul 11 '11 at 9:17

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